Honoring a Beloved Physician, Teacher, and Leader: The Inaugural James L. Schroeder, MD, Memorial Lecture

From left to right: Griffin Schroeder, Janet Schroeder, Dr. Harris Perlman, Carol Schroeder, and Dr. James Schroeder Jr. 

On May 18, members of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine community gathered to pay tribute to James L. Schroeder, MD, ’81 GME, longtime associate professor of Medicine in the Division of Rheumatology and former president and chief executive officer of Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation. Dr. Schroeder passed away on December 30, 2014.

Combining philanthropic gifts made in his honor and memory, the Division of Rheumatology elected to establish the James L. Schroeder, MD, Memorial Lecture. The lectureship is meant to honor Dr. Schroeder’s many contributions to both the field of rheumatology and Northwestern as a whole, while simultaneously acknowledging his deep commitment to continuing education.

“We wanted to do something to honor him,” said Harris R. Perlman, PhD, who is the Mabel Greene Myers Professor of Medicine and chief of the Division of Rheumatology. “Jim always made our division feel like a family, and I hope to continue that legacy.”

“Teaching is the foundation of our division, and Jim was a huge part of this,” continued Dr. Perlman. “I will always remember an image of him, which is burned into my memory. Whenever I came upon Jim, he was always with one or several trainees, helping them in one way or another.”

Dr. Schroeder’s widow, Carol Schroeder, attended the inaugural lecture and celebration, and she shared touching remarks before the scientific portion of the program began. The couple has four children, James Jr., Griffin, Janet, and Chip, three of whom also attended.

“For those of you who knew him, Jim was a man who was on fire—so excited about learning,” said Mrs. Schroeder. “He had a passion for medicine because he thought it such a privilege to care for people and be a part of their lives.”

“Through the more than 30 years Jim practiced medicine, it was amazing to see how progress in the field of rheumatology translated into better lives for his patients,” continued Mrs. Schroeder. She thanked everyone in attendance, particularly the many former patients who were able to attend the lecture: “Having you here honors him.”

The inaugural James L. Schroeder, MD, Memorial lecturer was Joan M. Bathon, MD, who is chief of the Division of Rheumatology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Medical Center. She also is professor of Medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Dr. Bathon’s talk focused on research that she and her team have conducted to study possible links between rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and heart disease. There are inflammatory components involved in both RA and heart disease, so some connections between the two seem likely. With the advent of new technologies that allow scientists to study these types of inflammation, Dr. Bathon and her colleagues are learning more about how these conditions are related and, potentially, how they can be treated or prevented.

“The creation of this lectureship is a great tribute to a wonderful man,” said Dr. Bathon during her talk. “He epitomized all of the wonderful features a physician can and should have—it is an honor to give this lecture in his name.”

“For those of you who knew him, Jim was a man who was on fire—so excited about learning. He had a passion for medicine because he thought it such a privilege to care for people and be a part of their lives.”

- Mrs. Carol Schroeder